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Contemporary Women's Writing in African Languages in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa

Principal Supervisor: Professor Lutz Marten (SOAS)

Co-Supervisor: Dr Mpalive-Hangson Msiska (Birkbeck)

The project aims to investigate the use of African languages in women’s writing and to contextualise this within wider discourses on African languages, African literatures and women’s writing in Africa. The project develops a detailed case study of one specific literary ecology from which to draw wider conclusions about the role and representation of African languages in literary use. The project’s overall objectives are to gain a better understanding of the linguistic repertoires available to African women writers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, of how they negotiate different linguistic domains and practices, of the contexts of production and perception of African language writing by female authors, and how these questions relate to wider discourses about language, artistic production, participation and development in the African context. The specific aims are to synthesize previous work on the intersection of African languages, African literatures and African women writers, to develop a specific case study of women’s African language writing in a Eastern, Central or Southern African context to be specified, to bring out wider results emerging from the case study and to gauge the implications of the results for related discourses on language, literary production, gender, development, and education in African contexts and beyond.

Candidate requirements

The candidate will have an excellent academic track record with a strong humanities or area studies focus. S/he will hold a BA of upper second class or higher and an MA degree with merit or higher. Good understanding of African literature, knowledge of an African language and research/study experience in an African context would be an advantage.

The candidate will participate in the doctoral training programmes at SOAS and Birkbeck and will be able to attend relevant academic and training courses offered through both colleges. Both SOAS and Birkbeck offer an excellent research infrastructure in African languages and literatures, with frequent events and seminars, a high concentration of scholarship and excellent resources.

Due to funding restrictions, this position is only open to candidates classified as 'Home/EU' student for fee purposes.

Key references

  • Barber, Karin & Graham Furniss. 2006.  Creative writing in African languages. Research in African Literatures 37(3): 1-14.
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. 1986. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers.
  • Ricard, Alain. 2004. The Languages and Literatures of Africa: The sands of Babel. Oxford: James Currey.
  • Trudell, Barbara. 2009. Local-language literacy and sustainable development in Africa. International Journal of Educational Development 29(1): 73-79.

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisor: Professor Lutz Marten, email:, staff profile:

Co-Supervisor: Dr Mpalive-Hangson Msiska, email:, staff profile:

Further information about PhDs at SOAS is available from:

How to apply:

Applicants should follow two steps

STEP 1:  Apply for the MPhil/PhD programme in African Studies (

Applicants must submit a COMPLETE on-line application for admission to the MPhil/PhD in African Studies programme as soon as possible but no later than the scholarship deadline (17:00 UK time, 2 March 2015). It is recommended to apply for the programme about six weeks BEFORE the scholarship deadline (that is, by 19 January 2015).

A complete application for admission includes transcripts, an explanation of the grading system for any degrees obtained outside of the UK, two references, CV, research proposal and a personal statement.

Please state in the application for admission that you wish to be considered for the Bloomsbury Colleges scholarship on 'Contemporary Women’s Writing In African Languages In Eastern, Central And Southern Africa'. In your research proposal, please include your reasons for applying for this project and what particular research you would like to undertake within it.

The panel will be considering your scholarship application TOGETHER with your online application for admission.  Please note that complete application for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year.  You should be prepared to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods. For any queries regarding the programme application procedure, please see or email

STEP 2:  Apply for the scholarship

You must apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form (

For any queries regarding the studentship application procedure, please email

Please note that due to funding restrictions the scholarship is only open to candidates who are classified as Home/EU students for fee purposes. Please see further information here:

Closing date for applications is 17:00 (UK time), Monday 2 March 2015